Hakushu 18 years (blind)

"An utterly misjudged 18-year-old expensive Japanese single malt mistaken for a Scottish grain, can it get any worse? We will see that tomorrow"

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Every Wednesday during the blind tasting competition is Mystery Day, meaning it can be everything but single malt Scotch. So what will we have today? Pot still, bourbon, rye, grain, single malt from other countries, blends, armagnac, cognac, rum, some other spirit… My mind is overflown by possibilities! At least we can see that we have something perfectly golden. Well, that slightly reduces the long list, doesn’t it? 


My first impression is chemical. Lots of solvents (acetone, refined petrol, even a hint of acetic acid) together with sweet vanilla, ginger, grass and orange zest. A developing sweetness with a spicy edge. After a while it drops the spicy edge (unfortunately) along with the chemical edge (fortunately). Maybe there is a slight oily touch in the back and some hints of custard, not overly sweet honey and cafe latte. Gets better when you leave in the glass for a while. It is strange. What can I say more? Let’s go taste this, I suppose.


Spiced sweets (never had them, although they must exist). I would say this is not overly complex. It is sweet, but the spices improve the palate. Vanilla, coconut, but also ginger, lemon juice, and a light floral touch. This is very easy to drink. Again the wood is present, but supportive, and it delivers a nice balance. I also think the palate is slightly more complex than the nose. The finish consist of honey, ginger, English breakfast tea and spicy pears.


Because of the slightly chemical smell (which is supposedly often found in grain whiskies), I directly went of the single malt path to the grain whiskies. Since I am totally unfamiliar with grains, I choose for Girvan after reading some reviews for the different grain distilleries. But oh my dear how confronting!? It was actually Hakashu 18 years with a current price tag of more than 300 euros…. I would never have guessed that, although it does explain the (for me) awkward nose and tasting. My experience with Japanese whisky is quite limited, let’s hope some respectable priced examples appear around here soon.

What others thought

Competition day #3

Hakushu 18 years

Whiskybase: 86.47 (75 votes) Contestants: 6.8/10

This samples was part of the


these are my personal views, so do not take them too seriously… nothing beats tasting these for yourself •

Cask influence
Nose 81%
Taste 78%
Balance 75%
Depth 78%
Finish 75%